Another weekend has come and gone, and with it, the UFC has had its first successful show in yet another new market. This past Saturday night, the UFC held their first ever event in the Canadian province of Manitoba, holding UFC 161 on Pay Per View live from the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Although some fans complained about a lack of big name value, or high-profile fights on the card (both very legitimate complaints after the cancellation of the planned main event; an Interim Bantamweight Championship bout between Eddie Wineland and Renan Barao) the event did deliver some fireworks and it also helped to raise the stock of a few fighters, while it sent the stock of some other fighters plummeting. Let’s recap the card and take a look at what’s next for the main carders.
Heavyweight Bout: Shawn Jordan defeated Pat Barry via TKO (Punches) at 0:59 of Round One
What’s next for Jordan? He’s got a couple wins in a row now and he deserves to take a step up in competition after this win. A bout against Todd Duffee makes a lot of sense. They’re both big, tough, hard-hitting sluggers in the Heavyweight division, so it’s a good fight to make from a rankings and entertainment standpoint.
What’s next for Barry? It’s hard to say. He hasn’t looked overly impressive lately, but he always comes to fight and he’s got a pretty big and loyal fan following. My guess is the UFC keeps him around simply to plug him in places where they need a good entertaining Heavyweight slugfest on a card. The loser of the upcoming Brandon Vera and Ben Rothwell fight probably makes the most sense for Barry but he doesn’t have a whole lot of options right now.
Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Alexis Davis defeated Rosi Sexton via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
It wasn’t the most exciting victory in the world, but Alexis Davis did what she had to do to get the win. In the opening round things were pretty even as both ladies lobbed a lot of leather at each other before the ending exchange where Sexton went after a takedown and Davis went after a triangle choke from her back. Over the next two rounds Davis used her superior grappling skills to control the action on the mat. Despite being taken down by Sexton at times, she was able to sweep and reverse the positions to take top control for the majority of the time. In the end she took a unanimous verdict even though she wasn’t able to earn herself a finish.
What’s next for Davis? It wasn’t a world-beating performance, but she still got the victory which is very important in a division as shallow as the Women’s Bantamweight division is. At the top of the division you have Rousey and Tate and then Cat Zingano when that ends, after that the door seems wide open. There seems to be one upcoming bout that makes the most sense for Davis, Liz Carmouche and UFC newcomer Jessica Andrade will battle at UFC on Fox 8. The winner of that bout is probably in the same position in the pecking order as Davis.
What’s next for Sexton? The UFC isn’t going to build a division around her, so she’s going to have to leave the UFC or keep fighting ten pounds heavier than she should be. If she chooses to stay in the UFC she should welcome a newcomer or she should face Sheila Gaff who recently lost to Sara McMann in the UFC.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Ryan Jimmo defeated Igor Pokrajac via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
Before making his UFC debut, Jimmo was hated on by a number of fans and media members for being a “boring fighter.” A couple of slugfests in his first two UFC bouts and everyone seemed to forget that. On Saturday night, he gave everyone a reminder of why he was so hated heading into his UFC debut. The crowd booed through most portions of this action light contest and I would recommend you avoid watching this on replay unless you enjoy clinch-heavy, action-light bouts. At the end of the day, Jimmo earned a pretty decisive victory, but impressed very few people by doing so.
What’s next for Jimmo? It’s hard to say, since he’s in a weird position rankings wise. His two UFC victories are over weaker competition and he got blasted the first time he took a step up in competition. I think the UFC should simply put him to the test to see what he can do against an upper-tier fighter. The two names I’ve heard tossed around I think both make excellent since. Thiago Silva could make an exciting fight if he can pressure Jimmo into a striking battle, or Robert Drysdale, the BJJ expert set to make his UFC debut soon who would force Jimmo to avoid a close-quarters grapple-fest.
What’s next for Pokrajac? Likely some fights in Europe or some organization not named the UFC. He hasn’t looked good and he really doesn’t have a lot of name value. If the UFC keeps him around it will simply be for a bout in Europe during the next foreign card, but I think he’s probably getting the axe.
Heavyweight Bout: Stipe Miocic defeated Roy Nelson via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
Heading into this fight, Roy Nelson was on the last fight of his UFC contract and was hoping to add another stoppage victory to his resume to beef up his bargaining price. Stipe Miocic had other plans. Miocic shored up some of his defensive striking liabilities and used excellent footwork and a strong boxing game to outwork Nelson over three full rounds. Miocic would have finished most Heavyweight fighters, as his onslaught was relentless and actually made Nelson set a UFC record for Significant Strikes absorbed, but Nelson is tough as nails and lasted the entire fifteen minutes, although he wasn’t close to winning at any point.
What’s next for Miocic? Miocic’s stock was sure to rise with an upset victory, but his stock has skyrocketed with the dominating performance he turned in. He reminded everyone why he was such a hot prospect when he entered the UFC. He’ll get a big match up in his next bout for certain, as the Heavyweight division is thin on contenders. Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione have an upcoming bout at UFC on Fox 8, and the winner of that bout has the kind of name value that the UFC will be looking to pit Miocic against.
What’s next for Nelson? He gambled big and it didn’t pay off. He doesn’t have a UFC contract anymore, and he’s going to have a hard time asking for a ton more money from the UFC after getting dominated. Still, he’s a fan favorite who is good to knock someone out, or get beat up standing for fifteen exciting minutes, so I doubt the UFC will let him walk away. There’s not a lot of great match ups for Nelson, but let him face off against Mark Hunt. It’ll probably be an exciting brawl, so why not give the fans something they actually want to see?
Light Heavyweight Bout: Rashad Evans defeated Dan Henderson via Split Decision after Three Rounds
Evans battled back from a tough first round to edge a Split Decision in front of a very hostile crowd. In the first round Henderson landed a jab and a follow up punch sent Evans to the ground and Henderson swarmed. Still Evans was able to survive the first. In the second and third, Evans crowded up against Henderson and made him fight from the clinch, not giving Henderson any room to roll off the big overhand right. Evans was the quicker fighter from outside, landing good combinations, in a solid winning effort. It was a split decision, but most people myself included had a pretty reasonable 2 rounds to 1 victory for Evans.
What’s next for Henderson? With his age and this loss, his chances of vying for a UFC title are probably long gone. Still, he’s probably not retiring and is more of a stand-up fighter than anything else nowadays, so the UFC will keep him around. The UFC should really just be using Henderson in dynasty fights from now on, since he’s willing to scrap just about anyone, any time and he’s still a good litmus test for where a fighter stands in the division. He’s had two memorable bouts against Wanderlei Silva in Japan, why not let them have a rubber match in the UFC? Makes good sense to me.